Tenet is finally making its arrival on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray so audiences can view the film in the safest way possible during a pandemic.
I enjoyed this film for what it is but Tenet is not the film to risk your life during a pandemic. I watched the film for the first time on a 43″ 4K TV. It is as close to the theatrical experience that I am going to get for the newest film from Christopher Nolan. I can talk about Nolan’s viewpoints on streaming all I want but that’s beside the point. The fact of the matter is that we are living in a pandemic. As such, most of us are not going to movie theaters. I value the theatrical experience but I also value my health. My only knowledge of Tenet going into the film was limited to the trailers and reading The Nolan Variations. Surprisingly, the book actually had a chapter on the new film. I stayed away from the Twitter discourse knowing it would be a few months.
It’s been ten years since Nolan delivered a heist movie (Inception) so it’s only natural to cover the spy genre. Oh, all the tropes are you because it wouldn’t be a spy movie without them! Kenneth Branagh’s Sator is a Russian oligarch not unlike his character in a recent Jack Ryan film. All we know is that the Protagonist (John David Washington) is the main character. We don’t know who he works for. Could it be the CIA or another intelligence organization? Nolan keeps us guessing but never tells us and I wouldn’t expect any different from the filmmaker.
The set pieces are phenomenal. Car chases and fight scenes with forward/backward action! The climax at Stalsk 12 is unbelievable. I’m watching it and still cannot believe what I am seeing. Nolan pulls it off! Here’s a fun fact: Stalsk 12 was built in California.
In terms of casting, it doesn’t happen without a pair of 2018 films: BlacKkKlansman and Widows. The former lends leading actor John David Washington. The latter film gives is Elizabeth Debicki. If you like Elizabeth Debicki’s performance in Tenet and want to see more, please watch Widows. No, really. I’m serious! Obviously, you can’t help but feel for her character of Kat in this film. Meanwhile, Robert Pattinson’s performance should show audiences why he is ready to take on The Batman. Listen, I don’t care for the Twilight series but the man can act–just give him the right filmmaker and material.
The film’s ending? Nolan takes the film in a different direction than one could imagine. It is satisfactory but certainly a surprise. This is the type of film that internet users are going to deconstruct. Can we read more into the ending? Maybe, maybe not. Nolan certainly has his own expectations of what audiences will think of his films. All one needs to do is look at his filmography leading up to this point: Following, Memento, Insomnia, The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Prestige, Inception, Interstellar, and Dunkirk. Much like Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, and David Lynch, we have an idea of what to expect from the filmmaker. If you look at Inception as being his Vertigo, you can look at Tenet in the same way that we look at Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.
Having just read the Tom Shone book on Nolan, I can tell you right now that the filmmaker’s ambition for Tenet was “for the film to do for spy movies what Sergio Leone had done to the Western–some distillation of essence.” Did it work? When it comes to the spy genre, everything will almost certainly fall under James Bond’s shadow. To not do so is seemingly impossible! Nolan purposely went the longest period of his life in not watching a Bond film. Tenet is Nolan’s memory of the Bond films and what they can be. This concept certainly comes through in viewing the film! Though there does not seem to be any sort of comical stand-in for Q.
My chief complaint about the film and why I dock it a point: the sound mix. There are times where the music is so loud that we cannot hear dialogue. Yes, Robert Pattinson’s Neil repeats it after the fact but that’s beside the point. The volume on my remote control kept going up and done during the entire run time. My point is, if I’m watching a film, I want to hear what is being said without having to turn on subtitles because the film score is loud. I understand that others prefer watching with subtitles and that’s perfectly fine.
The best way to go about trying to understand Tenet is to just sit there and enjoy the ride. There is a lot of science at play here and if you’re like me, it’s going to go right over your head.
- Looking at the World in a New Way: The Making of Tenet – An hour-long exploration of the development and production of the film as told by the cast and crew.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Christopher Nolan
CAST: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, with Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh